Technical Developments

by Peter J. Bates,
pjb Associates, UK

This issue has tended to focus on some of the technology developments which have taken place recently. The World Wide Web is increasingly becoming the dominant technology which has wide implications for education and training. The tools which have now become available to browse Internet are opening up a vast resource of materials available to learners throughout the world.

The process of developing the browser tools like Mosaic, Netscape and now HotJava is interesting. All these tools have been made freely available for educational and non-commercial purposes. This has resulted in a rapid and widespread adoption of these tools throughout the world. The companies which have now been formed to market and develop these tools further, are now selling licences to commercial providers on the Internet who can use and customise these browsers into their own "value-added" products. But, awareness of these tools was already high before improved products become available and certain standards have also been achieved. A critical mass was created and thus they have become known as "killer applications."

It seems that some lessons can be learnt from this approach. New projects, which are soon to be approved by the European Commission under the Telematics Applications Programme - Education and Training Sector, will need to think carefully how their products and services are to be marketed. The Mosaic and Netscape model is certainly one to seriously consider. They have certainly been "market tested" before they are commercially exploited. The new projects also need to be careful to ensure that their "ideas" have not become out of date before they have even started. As seen in this issue technological developments are happening very rapidly.

Issue 5 "Learning in a Global Information Society" 20 September 1995